After shedding 117 pounds, 
Slinger woman tries triathlon
Diet, exercise help Diana Behrend turn around her life


September 12, 2008



Diana Behrend of Slinger sets out on her morning bike ride. Behrend will take part in a sprint triathlon Saturday.

SLINGER - Two years ago Diana Behrend could only run for 30 seconds. Tomorrow sheíll be taking part in a sprint triathlon.

The transformation of the Slinger resident started with her working with a trainer once a month, and working on a treadmill and total gym in her home every day.

"I would alternate (cardio with weights) when I first ran on the treadmill, I started 30 seconds at a time, and I would be coughing up a lung," she said. "Then I got to the point where I ran to a really good song, then a couple of good songs."

Now, at age 46, sheís up to a 6 1/2-mile run - but she didnít stop there.

Behrend also started riding her bike and finding unique ways to work out - from using kettle bells, a Russian style workout with and 18 pound weight, to pulling a 55 pound tire around the yard and pulling things behind her while she mows the lawn.

All of that has not only led her to increase her workout stamina, but has also caused her to lose 117 pounds.

"I think it was a few years after I got married that I became pretty heavy, and since having a child (the weight) just never came off," she said. "I was OK in high school, but I used to do a lot then. I grew up in the area (Germantown) and it was all country back then so it wouldnít be unusual to bike 5 miles to your friendís house after school. I was always either walking or biking somewhere."

After trying the Atkins diet, with decent results, Behrend realized it was the exercise that was causing the weight to not completely come off.





Once she started, she was hooked.

"I think I stick with it because I like it so much. I take my son (Jared, 13) to school in the morning and Iím out there (biking or running) right away," she said.

She also continues to eat well - purchasing as much food locally as she can.

Finding a program you like, she said, is crucial to sticking to it.

"You really have to find something you like to do, and change up your routine - your body gets used to things if it becomes to monotonous," she said. "Itís hard, but everyone has something deep down in them to help them pull it off, and once you do, overall, you canít believe how great you feel."

Behrend knows from her own family and through her job as a respiratory therapist at Froedtert Hospital, the dangers of being overweight.

"I lost my mom too early - she was heavy all her life, and I didnít want to do that. I want to be around for my son," she said.

Her idea to set a triathlon as a goal came after a visit with her sister.

"My sister had lost a lot of weight, and it was getting to the point where she was going to lose more than me, and I thought ĎI canít let that happen,í" she joked.

It was during that visit to Marinette with her son a year ago when she saw part of the triathlon herself.

"We missed the running, but were able to watch the bikes come through and as we did, I talked to a woman (at the race) who said this would be the perfect triathlon for me to start on. When we saw the swimmers cross the line, I thought ĎI gotta do that,í" Behrend said. "As we were driving away from the event, the woman I had been talking to, said ĎSee you next year.í"

Behrend is hoping to run into that woman again, as her husband, Jeff, and her son cheer her on at the triathlon in Marinette.

"My husband is pretty proud of me, and has stood behind me in getting ready for the triathlon - pretty much all of my free time, if Iím not working, is spent working out," she said.

The 3.1-mile run will start at the YMCA, followed by a 15-mile bike ride which will lead contestants back to the YMCA for a 1/4-mile swim.

After her sprint triathlon is complete, Behrend plans to keep up the training, with hopes of competing in a half-triathlon next year, not only to keep herself in shape but in hopes others will follow.

"I hope to lead by example," she said.

Itís working, said friend Diana Susen.

Susen first met Behrend, a year ago when she came to purchase meat from her business, Meadow Creek Elk Farms.

"Dianaís quest for a healthier life through nutrition and exercise has made me reevaluate my own habits," Susen said.

She now bikes with her daughters and sometimes her grandson, coming close to her goal of biking 25 miles.

"By seeing what Diana has accomplished with her huge weight loss by eating right and being more active, she has motivated me to become serious about what I know I should have been doing all along," she said.

To follow Diana Behrendís road to the triathlon and after, visit her blog at

This story appeared in The Daily News on September 12, 2008.